Ferguson (FERG.L), the world’s largest specialist trade distributor of plumbing and heating products, reaffirmed early on Monday its full year guidance and set out a share buy-back program after fiscal third quarter sales and trading profit jumped.
Revenue from ongoing businesses increased by 6.2% to 5.27 billion pounds ($6.72 billion) during the three months that ended April 30, from 4.97 billion pounds a year ago, the Newport News, Virginia-headquartered firm said in its earnings statement.
On an organic basis, sales were 2.7% higher, due in part to the growth in the US and UK markets. “In line with our guidance at the half year, the overall market environment [in the US] has moderated to low growth and we continued to gain market share,” the statement noted. Gross margins in the UK were lower but costs were “well controlled,” the firm pointed out.
Ferguson’s trading profit — which excludes exceptional items and amortization of acquired intangible assets — rose to 359 million pounds versus 351 million pounds a year ago, with gross margin ahead of last year, underpinning the group’s new $500 million share repurchase program. The firm said it has returned $3.5 billion of surplus cash to shareholders over the last six years.
“We will continue to invest organically in our businesses supplemented by bolt on acquisitions in our core operations,” Group Chief Executive Officer John Martin said in the statement. “Given our strong financial position, we are initiating a buyback program which we expect to complete over the next 12 months.”
The analysts’ consensus for the company’s 2019 trading profit ranges from about $1.57 billion to $1.60 billion, it said. The company expects to generate ongoing group trading profit in the year ending July 31 “in line with current analysts’ consensus forecasts.”
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